Patterns of Normal Human Brain Plasticity After Practice and Their Implications for Neurorehabilitation

Clare Kelly, John J. Foxe, Hugh Garavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Kelly C, Foxe JJ, Garavan H. Patterns of normal human brain plasticity after practice and their implications for neurorehabilitation. Objectives: To illustrate how our knowledge about normal patterns of experience-induced plasticity can provide insights into the mechanisms of neurorehabilitation; to provide an overview of the practice-effects literature in order to simplify and amalgamate a large number of heterogeneous findings and identify typical patterns of practice effects and their determining factors; and to concentrate on the impact of practice on higher cognitive functions, such as working memory, and present some preliminary but promising behavioral data that show how practice on a complex cognitive task can benefit cognitive functioning more generally. Data Sources: We performed a systematic search for peer-reviewed journal articles using computerized databases (PubMed, ISI Web of Science, PsycINFO). Data Selection: Neuroimaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or positron-emission tomography (PET) to examine functional activation changes as a result of practice on sensory, motor, or cognitive tasks in normal (healthy) populations were included in the review. Further studies were identified that examined the effects of rehabilitative training on functional activations in clinical populations using fMRI or PET. Data Extraction: Important characteristics of the selected studies were summarized in a systematic manner so to enable the extraction of specific factors impacting on the pattern of practice effects observed. Data Synthesis: We identified a number of factors that impact on the patterns of practice effects observed and discuss how the insights gained from the study of healthy populations can by applied to rehabilitation of cognitive deficits in clinical populations. Conclusions: Progress in our understanding of neurorehabilitative plasticity will be enabled by neuroimaging examinations of cognitive rehabilitation training grounded in a knowledge of normal (healthy) patterns of brain activation and practice-induced plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuronal plasticity
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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